APP2: Choosing suitable typography for St. Luke’s Church book

For this blog post I will show the process involved in me selecting the typeface(s) I will be using for the St. Luke’s Church book.

Serif & Sans-Serif:

I decided I would use a serif typeface for the body copy and a sans-serif for the display typeface, as this plays to their respective strengths, of legibility at smaller sizes for body copy and sans-serif for display typefaces as it can help give a clean, minimal appearance.

Display & Body Copy:

Now that I had made the decision regarding serifed and sans-serifed typefaces, I now turned my attention towards selecting the correct typeface for the job. I was really unsure about where to go for this project, so I decided I would open Font Book, a program on Mac’s, and look through the list and draw out potential typefaces I felt may work, either for display or body copy.

Criteria:
  • A sans-serif typeface should work for headings and captions, be minimal, clean, and not overly styled.
  • A serif typeface should work for body copy and sells, and be very traditional, representing the majority audience for the book.
Shortlist of display typefaces:
  • Open Sans (light)
  • Raleway
  • Myriad Pro
  • Helvetica Neue (light)
  • Nexa (light)
  • Avenir Pro
  • Maven Pro
Shortlist of body copy typefaces:
  • Baskerville
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Perpetua
  • Minion Pro
  • Times New Roman
Looking at body copy typefaces in print:

I then printed off the typeface selection I had just been looking at on-screen, as typefaces often look completely different when printed. One example I’ve found is that Helvetica Neue can sometimes look distorted on my screen, but prints perfectly fine. All typefaces were 12pt, to fit into the grid I discussed in the last blog post.

Looking at the body copy typefaces, I asked a couple of audience members for how legible each typeface was, listened to their feedback and from there chose the body copy typeface.

T1

  • Baskerville: Suitable. A lovely traditional typeface, very legible, good balance of characters, stroke weight, ligatures etc.
  • Garamond: Not Suitable. Too much stroke variance, characters too thin in general, very weak type density on page.
  • Georgia: Suitable. Very large aiding legibility, traditional typeface, also with lower case numbers, a bonus.
  • Perpetua: Not Suitable. Too small, not legible enough.
  • Minion Pro: Suitable. Very legible, similar qualities to Baskerville.
  • Times New Roman: Not Suitable. Suitable in reality, but Minion Pro has slightly larger characters and less chiselled features.

From there, I can get rid of Georgia, as I feel the characters are too large, and the x-height is an excessive proportion to the rest of the character, something that would not be solved at a smaller size.
Next to be eliminated in my mind was Minion Pro, which while is a very suitable typeface, I felt the type density was a bit heavy.

This left Baskerville, which meets all the requirements I want for the project, being legible, having a suitable type density, and looking good on the page being a traditional style typeface. The only thing I wish this typeface had was lower case numbers as Georgia does.

Looking at heading & sell typefaces in print:

Simultaneously to the section above, I also created several combinations of typefaces I could use together for the heading and sell for each spread. This time I did not show them to the audience as legibility was not a problem with the typefaces I had selected. Headings were xxpt and the sell was xxpt, set in the italic weight.

Although I have judged typefaces as a pair, I wasn’t concerned by mixing and matching pairs if I felt something worked better.

T2

  • Open Sans/Baskerville: Suitable. Very pleased with this combination, it looks just right on the page. Had to use Baskerville Semibold Italic as Italic was far too thin and unsuitable.
  • Raleway/Open Sans: Not Suitable. Using two sans-serif was against my plans, but I wanted to experiment. Raleway is too thin and Open Sans is better suited to the heading.
  • Myriad Pro/Georgia: Not Suitable. Myriad Pro looks wrong here, far too thick and generally very boring. Georgia works very well here though, possibly the best sell typeface.
  • Helvetica Neue/Garamond: Not Suitable. Helvetica is too clinical for the heading and Garamond is too small and fiddly.
  • Nexa Light/Minion Pro: Suitable. Both typefaces work very well together, with a great contrast,
  • Avenir Pro/Times New Roman: Not Suitable. Avenir Pro is oddly proportioned, with an x-height that is far too small. Times New Roman is again eclipsed by Minion Pro.
  • Maven Pro/Times New Roman: Not Suitable. Maven Pro is too angular, which becomes all too noticeable at larger sizes.

From that, I felt that while both pairs I classed as suitable would work alright, I would have chosen Open Sans for the heading and Georgia for the sell, but as I had decided on Baskerville for the body copy, and wanted to keep a consistent theme, without too many typefaces to balance, I chose Baskerville for the sell. It was a small trade off, as Baskerville is so much better suited for the body copy.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, after seeming like spending a long time reviewing typefaces… I am very pleased to have found the two suitable typefaces for this project that convey the aesthetic and accessibility I want the book to have. The two typefaces also work well together.

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